This post is the latest in an occasional series from our Bangkok correspondent, H. Numan.
Early Tuesday morning the Thai army took over control of the country. It’s not really a coup, because the government is still in place. Technically a coup d’état is only a coup if the government is replaced. However… it’s rather complicated:
The government not replaced was no longer active. It was a caretaker government in lieu of elections. The elections failed, due to protests of the ‘yellow shirts’ group and the resistance of the Democrat Party. New elections are planned sometime in July.
The caretaker premier, Ms. Yingluck, and her nine most senior cabinet members were removed from office due to a corruption scandal. This happened on 7 May.
So we have at this moment a caretaker cabinet where the caretaker premier is replaced by a caretaker for the caretaker premier.
No reason at all for the army to remove that government. Just let them be; they can’t do much against the army anyway. Therefore the coup wasn’t really a coup. Really complicated, what?
The army didn’t have to march out in force to take control of the city, either. They were already in place. Due to the political unrest, the state of emergency was declared three months ago, and the army set up checkpoints all over the city.
Until yesterday morning weapons were not visible — all you saw were bored soldiers sitting behind sandbags not doing much. The only visible change is that their M16s are no longer hidden away.
At this moment everything is as normal as can be. No demonstrations, no violence. Shops and banks are open; business as usual.
The red shirts (supporters of Thaksin, the ousted premier) announced they won’t come out in force. The yellow shirts (opponents of Thaksin) stated they were not in favor of the coup but won’t rally, either. Nor can they, even if they want, because both red and yellow shirt camps are surrounded by the army.
The military want all parties involved to start negotiating a settlement. They acted because they expected a new surge of violence. Or so they say. There are rumors going around that red shirts were recruiting troublemakers in Cambodia. Those rumors are just that: unconfirmed rumors.
This was Bangkok reporting,